SavvyBlog

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The business of Mommy Blogs
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There is an interesting topic being discussed on the Mom blogs right now. I first read about it in a post by one of our SavvyExperts and author of The Mother of All Parenting Books (as well as many others), Ann Douglas.

With publishers like Babble.com producing lists like ‘The Top 50 Mom Blogs of 2010’ comes a big debate on the issues of competition and compensation for mom bloggers. Such things are apparently rarely discussed in open among the mom bloggers as they are deemed contrary by some to the very nature of the organic and collaborative blogging community.

In a post written by Katie Allison Granju, a top US mommy blogger, her version of that culture is explained well: “Those of us mamas who blog—whether or not we happen to make these ‘best of’ lists—really aren’t in ‘competition’ with one another in the same way an MBA student would understand business competition. Although we do operate within the same media category, we are part of a uniquely interconnected and highly organic ecosystem of relationships and conversations. The independent mommy blogosphere is a living example of how a ‘rising tide lifts all boats.’ If one of us attracts a certain amount of traffic to our blog, and we link to another blog we like—or even to a blog post with which we may disagree that day—our traffic becomes that other blogger’s traffic, and so on and so on. That’s how it works. We depend on one another, and we like it that way.”

Meanwhile, Catherine Connors, a prominent Canadian mom blogger who has made a successful business of her blog, Her Bad Mother is sheepish but honest about the actual business of blogging, and her view is that mommy blogging should be regarded and accepted as a serious enterprise. Her reasons for not openly discussing the topic of success are as follows: “There are, I think, a million reasons why we don’t talk about it (success) in these spaces—for me, these include fear of being attacked for what some might think is my undeserved success, and a certain prissy squeamishness about talking about my success or about anything that might be perceived as a veiled-but-nonetheless-self-congratulatory discussion of my success—but whatever the reason, the lack of conversation hurts us.”

Andrea Tomkins, our Ottawa SavvyScribe and esteemed blogger, sums up this entire debate on her own blog, Inside the Fish Bowl if you are interested in reading more on the topic.

My two cents? After reading these honest and heartfelt posts (common on the mom blogs and at the core of their success), I am left with a few thoughts. Firstly, I congratulate all mom bloggers for their success and their efforts. Whether they intended to do so or not (some did, some didn’t), they have attracted the attention of mainstream media, top brands and advertisers. They have become a powerful and highly sought after influential voice.

Here’s the thing. With that voice comes responsibility and choices. Every single mom blogger has the ability to make a choice and be honest with herself about what she intends to do with her writing. If she is writing for personal reasons, to work through some of her own life/parenting questions, develop online relationships and hopefully become a better mother, then all the power to her. But if one chooses to make a business from one’s blog, I have a huge amount of admiration…and a little bit of advice. Building a community and a loyal audience is hard work. It’s not a part-time job and it’s not a job to be taken lightly. Any mom who has built that kind of community by delivering quality content should be proud of herself and should never be shy about that success. She should also be able to monetize the value of that audience, because if she doesn’t, then brands will figure out a way to take advantage of her influence.

Keep writing, be honest with yourself and make choices. But don’t be shy. Blogging is supposed to be all about transparency anyway, isn’t it?

Does anyone else want to join the discussion?

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Trevor Bond
June 13, 2011
Trevor Bond
Welcome to SavvyDad…Dad’s perspective from a first timer.
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(Week Two of Daddyhood)

I begin by admitting that ‘SavvyDad’ is a premature title, but I will strive to earn it in time, proudly ‘settling’ today for just Dad. This in and of itself, is a daunting enough title, bequeathed on Tuesday, May 24 at 7 am when my son Baxter was born at home surrounded by his mom (Amy), two talented midwives, and me.

There’s so much to share. Every new day, every moment brings change and wonder. But let’s begin at the beginning.

Being a good dad through your partner’s pregnancy is pretty simple: do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. For me this was no challenge. Amy is not demanding and rarely complains. But that doesn’t mean that her discomfort, her aches, sleep deprivation and general hormonal sea-change wasn’t making her life just a tad miserable.  I tried to take on more chores and assist her before she had to ask. It was just like business management—remove obstacles to create a productive environment. It also meant taking part in whatever preparatory courses or appointments were required.

Beyond the midwife’s clinic and ultrasound, Amy had discovered, through a friend, a book and class on hypno-birthing, which claims a path to a pain-free natural birth. Yeah, I know. But to be honest, Amy did acquire new skills, learned to control her breathing and gained a better understanding of the sensations (pain) her body would go through during birth. These are very useful tools during labour and birth. To make everything more peaceful, the course renames a lot of terms. “Contractions” are “surges”, “delivery” is a no-no (because babies are not UPS packages); and “pain”? Suffice to say I can’t remember what their word for it was, but it’s still called pain to me and Amy has a few more words for it in her vocabulary today.

Labour and birth found me part nurse, part breathing coach, cold compress manager, hand-holding partner, part statistician, tracker of contractions… surge lengths and patterns and part gofer. In a three-story house, after 15 hours of all this multitasking, I felt I had run a marathon.

But the gold medal goes to Mom. Partners, you will feel a sharp and intense indebtedness (for lack of any better word) to the mother of your child. A respect and awe that was previously incomprehensible, and now that the magic moment has passed, even more so.

Next subject: the Push Present—a term so foreign it had to be spelled out to me.

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Giving back to Slave Lake
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I’m sure you have all heard of the devastating fire that claimed the homes of over 7000 residents in Slave Lake, Alberta last month. Thousands of families were displaced by this horrible natural disaster but like with all tragedies, there is usually a humanitarian story to be heard. This time, its mom entrepreneurs who are stepping in to help.

Together with the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services, Baby Gourmet, a small business that specializes in frozen (and tasty) baby food has sent 4000 units of its product to Slave Lake. That’s about 8500 nutritious meals for babies in the hardest hit areas.

Jennifer Broe, Co-Founder and President of Baby Gourmet Foods spearheaded this initiative because her ‘business has grown based on the support of Albertans, when we heard about the Slave Lake disaster; we saw an opportunity to give back. Partnering with Edmonton Emergency Relief Services has made this donation possible”. Broe says, “As a mother, I know how hard it can be to make life work on a day to day basis, let alone after your home and all of your possessions have been destroyed. We wanted to step in and help provide some healthy and delicious meals for babies, one less thing those moms would have to think about—at least for the moment.” We think this mom has her priorities straight.

Another mom entrepreneur who is pitching in is Traci Costa, owner of clothing line and online store Peekaboo Beans. They’re holding an online auction offering vintage and rare items from their website (by vintage we don’t mean ‘gently used’, we mean previous collections). What better way to pitch in than to shop and pick up a few items you might have had on your list anyway?

Red Cross
www.redcross.ca

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Trevor Bond
June 15, 2011
Trevor Bond
Mom and baby after a long labour
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A good friend of mine with two teenage boys told me pregnancy is like walking up to a large set of double doors and waiting. Then unexpectedly, they burst open and you are bathed in a blinding white light that you step through into a complete unknown (excuse any parallels to death).

Well our wait at the doors was ‘normal’. Then one week past our due date, Amy’s labour began. There I was, ever vigilant with pen and paper and stopwatch (iPhone). We tried different positions where Amy hung off me on the deck, staring at blossoming trees, used her ball, sat, crouched, stood, walked, sat then finally hit the bath. Now this is an audience of moms so I needn’t describe in detail the mounting discomfort that creeps up. We existed moment to moment and I watched the one I love become more and more pained. I held her hand, a cold compress to her forehead and breathed along with her as she looked at me with a burning desire for relief. That’s when we called in the marines. Our marine is General Tracy Gerster with the East York Midwives Clinic (and her band of merry troops—shout out!). I shuddered as Tracy said, “Why didn’t you call earlier?”.

At this point Amy and I were both grateful to have a third person in the house, someone to call the shots, someone to explain the sensations, position mom, call in back-up, set up accoutrements that turned our master suite into a triage. And through this all I could think was, “How can I take the pain away from the love of my life?” It’s an emotional and powerless position. Men daydream of saving their wife from peril, being the hero. Truth is Amy entered the zone—a zone where real superheroes reside. I witnessed a metamorphosis that truly blew my mind. My timid, sweet, seemingly-fragile partner became a blazing, red-hot woman succumbing to nature and all I could do is quietly whisper accolades and encouragements.

Now if anyone had told Amy that Baxter was going to be almost 10 lbs, I’m sure we would have been in a sterile hospital with foreign comforts and strangers casually recapping their holiday weekend at our feet. Instead we were home resting on our bed with professionals we’re tempted to call family, and blinded by a bright whiteness on the other side of that door, a new-found family.

Next week: the Push present. I promise.

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Trevor Bond
June 26, 2011
Trevor Bond
The Push Present
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Although I love the ring of the term ‘bastard child’, I knew Amy and I were in for the long haul. We planned to have a family (as evident by Amy’s pregnant state) but we had no plans to wed. There was no pressure and no guilt. Nice.

So when I popped the question at a lovely French restaurant, Amy was confused. She thought the ring box had fancy chocolates in it (needless to say she was ever so slightly disappointed). But a wedding ring is always a nice gift, and a nice challenge if the recipient is a woman who designs jewelry for a living. Fear not, I’m not named Bond for nothing. I sleuthed, hacked and conspired with her friends and together with the very talented Cynthia Archer, created a lovely ring featuring an orange sapphire. It was during this process that Cynthia recommended I get a couple of extra rocks for matching earrings. They would make the perfect ‘Push Present’, she said. I nodded and smiled—with absolutely no knowledge of what she meant.

Fast-forward to an evening of unmedicated, totally-natural child birthing in front of my very eyes, in our very bed no less, and when it was all over (or starting) all I could think was, “This woman deserves a medal! A prize beyond that of breathing life form; something that shines and sparkles just for her!” Wait! So while the midwives tidied up (have I mentioned how amazing our midwives are?) I ran down to where I had stored the earrings many moons ago. I returned panting and presented the same box. Of course Amy barely knew her own name and only looked at them like chocolates again, but she got her medal.

Every woman has her own childbirth story. Some are sad and some are stressful and most are beautiful. Now, it’s not for me to say if the gift should be a measure of the struggle or the success, but women who carry a baby to term experience a new world of sensations and challenges and deserve a medal.

And now I see Amy dawning these colourful sparkling jewels, holding our new baby, suddenly a mother, and I am so grateful for her gifts to me.

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Kids being banned from restaurants, co-sleeping and celeb baby names make the list this week.

What’s so topical about a restaurant in Pennsylvania banning children under the age of six, saying their boisterous behaviour bothers others patrons and is bad for business? I think it’s because the owners aren’t blaming the children, but rather the parents. Apparently, they argue that there is a noticeable decline in the behaviour of children aged 2 to 5, and after repeated appeals to parents to calm children down, their staff was ignored. It’s the parents who are being banned, not the kids.

I agree wholeheartedly with what Emma Waverman of Embrace the Chaos has to say when she asks why is this being talked about again? But I will be brave and say that it doesn’t surprise me when I hear owners wanting to ban the parents, not the kids. Small business owners have to make decisions to protect their loyal customers. If they don’t want my family in their restaurant, I don’t want to go there. Just don’t expect me to be a patron a few years down the road when our kids are older.

What do you think? Savvy or not so savvy?

Co-Sleeping was in the news this week when Erica Jong suggested in a New York Times article that co-sleeping was killing parents’ sex lives. Really? This is news? I ask you, what parent doesn’t know this?

Although it hasn’t been talked about voraciously on the mommy blogs, I noticed it did garner up to 160 comments on the Globe and Mail site at its most recent viewing. So even if it’s obvious, it’s also a topic that is close to people’s heart strings (and headboards). That is, it’s important enough to people that they are participating in the discussion. Not a shocker.

What do you think? Savvy or not so savvy?

While Harper Seven Beckham (Victoria and David’s baby girl) and Bingham (Bing) Hawn Bellamy (newborn son of Kate Hudson and Matthew Bellamy) get used to their new monikers, celeb baby names are on everyone’s mind once again. Here’s the scoop on the Today’s Parent blog.

I do understand that baby names are always a topical subject—especially for new parents. I also understand that people are obsessed with celebs (sadly). So put the two together and come up with a name like Bing (seriously) and you have something to talk about.

Think of the fun they can have creating rhyming nicknames for him… Bing a ling ding dong ding.

I suppose they don’t have to worry about getting busted in the schoolyard for being named after a sound their cell phone makes. He’ll likely be homeschooled. Lucky Bing… ding dong ding.

And by the way, I’m allowed to judge having grown up with a name like Minnow and being married to a man named Rupert. Just sayin’.

What do you think? Savvy or not so savvy?

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Savvy or Not So Savvy?
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$1,500 buys 20 goats for an impoverished African village, two months-worth of groceries for a Canadian family of three, or 50 French pedicures at the place around the corner from SavvyMom HQ. What else does it buy? A swanky, modern day stroller called the Donkey (we’ll omit any reference to a donkey’s rear at this point).

There was a lot of buzz recently around the launch of Bugaboo’s pimped-out Donkey stroller that comes with more accessories than a ‘tween girl on her way to a Justin Bieber concert. I had two strollers in the early years of raising my kids (a single and a used double) and they were just fine. The first was a gift, the second cost about $250. So you can imagine that I cringe at the thought of spending that much dough on wheels. As for Sarah, over the years she spent that much or more on the various strollers (single, double, umbrella, jogger, light for transporting, heavy for getting through the snow…) and wagons her family of three kids (born in 3. 5 years) went through. So I suppose there is an argument for both sides.

As a family (and child) grows, transportation requirements change and that first stroller might not cut it anymore. One of the purported advantages of the Donkey is that it grows with your family. And in her Embrace the Chaos blog, Emma Waverman raised another good point: ‘Your stroller represents that little bit of freedom to interact in the world…’ It’s tough to put a price on that but still, it’s open for debate. $1500 for a stroller? Savvy or not so savvy?

This month, police in Georgia shut down a lemonade stand. They allege the ‘perps’, three little girls who were trying to save money to go to a water park, didn’t have a permit nor did they have any kind of FDA approval for their product. We allege the police were just being cranky because the girls weren’t offering coffee and donuts along with the lemonade. Savvy or not so savvy?

Are they Hyper-Parents or Tiger Mom wannabes? Or are they on to something that most of us aren’t (but really should be)? I’m talking about parents who hire tutors for their (very) young children. An article in the Globe and Mail last month talked about the trend of parents hiring tutors for their pre-school children in order to give their kids a leg up in their education. (I can`t help but wonder if these tutors get paid as much as the one who tutors Gwyneth Paltrow`s children.) Turns out that three- and four-year-olds face stiff competition when they enter preschool and kindergarten and by providing tutor-time to learn about things like sphere’s, cylinders and trapezoids, parents are giving them an advantage. At least these parents are being more proactive than the New York mom who sued her daughter’s pre-school because it was, ‘a ‘big playground’ teaching mere shapes and colours and therefore damaging her kid’s educational future.’

What do you think, Savvy or Not So Savvy? We’d love to hear from you, especially if you’ve hired a tutor recently for your toddler. (I could use a refresher on the difference between a sphere and a cylinder.)

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You've come a long way blogger, but do you realize just how far?
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1960s
Suburban housewives gather ‘round kitchen tables and across backyard fences, where they smoke, drink coffee, and share their views on kids, husbands, and creative ways to use Tang in recipes. Adherents to the ‘children-should-be-seen-but-not-heard’ school of thought, these laid-back, retro-moms give their children unlimited access to television, unsupervised outdoor play (as long as they come home when they’re called for dinner), and questionable playthings including toy guns and empty dry cleaner bags. Though small in size, their community network is strong and likely the reason these housewives weren’t driven to drink (that often).

1970s
Buoyed by consciousness raising groups, feminist philosophy and an inexplicable love of polyester pant-suits, early feminists unite to demand equal rights for women.  Huddling around bra burning bonfires, these thoroughly modern women pass the time dissing male chauvinist pigs while voicing their aspirations for their daughters and themselves. An obsession with benchmarks is born. United in a cause that transcends local concerns, these women reached out beyond their local community to champion social causes (and get out for a night with the girls).

1980s
Women enter the workforce in unprecedented numbers. Drawn to power-suits, big shoulder pads and even bigger hair, they juggle career and family in an attempt to have it all. On the down-side, the dual-income household is blamed for spawning rampant consumerism and exhausted women, mothers and wives. On the plus side, women have more purchasing power than ever before. As they gather at office water coolers to speculate who killed J.R. and share war-stories from the mall (a forerunner to the modern-day product review), marketers begin to recognize their clout. As working moms embark on a road previously less traveled, they take support and solace (as well as tips on good daycare) from the other women sharing their journey. They continue to share and connect as their community network extends even more.

1990s
Technology (and broadband) becomes mainstream as widespread adoption of email changes our lives. Despite rumours of early adopters having difficulty grasping the nuances of Reply vs. Reply All, society embraces this new medium for connecting. Highly skilled at sharing and connecting, women take to this new means of communication like fish to water, (or schools of fish?). Now they are networked and connected globally, instantaneously and so easily. It’s like it was made for them.

2000s
Blogging becomes a way of life as the number of public blogs on the Internet swells to 156 million by February 2011. At 3.9 million strong, Mom Bloggers are a force to be reckoned with. Women find blogging to be a creative outlet, a fledgling business opportunity, a way to stay connected and a lone listening ear at those times when a day at home with children proves long.  United, bloggers champion social causes, and speak out against social injustice. They make a difference. Connecting across virtual backyard fences, they reach out to the world to share their views on family, husbands and why their children shouldn’t be allowed unlimited access to television or questionable playthings like guns and dry cleaning bags.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

We celebrate social media, influential women, connectedness and community. The Moms attending the BlogHer ’11 conference this week have a lot to celebrate.

Have fun, ladies.

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Savvy or Not So Savvy?
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I read an article the other day that I think is seriously not so savvy. As I read, something my mother says kept going through my head: ‘That’s just crazy talk’. 

The article, Why Blogs for Women are Bad for Women, by Susannah Breslin, makes the argument that by targeting women specifically, and dealing with female-only topics, ‘women’s blogs’ are effectively taking their audience out of the mainstream conversation. She goes on to say women complain and settle for mediocrity and bloggers are all too sympathetic. In Breslin’s words, ‘They appease you. They don’t ask you to think; they tell you what you want to hear’.

Let’s have a closer look at Ms. Breslin’s arguments, shall we?

Blogs for Women Take Women Out of the Mainstream
Really? We’re still worried about being left out of the conversation with the big boys? I thought we were so over that. The very act of complaining women are being left out is one of the things that leaves us out. The good news is that in this day and age, we can actually choose and from where I’m standing, women bloggers have made their choice. They didn’t start the conversation among themselves because they were kicked out of the boys’ club; they just started talking because they had common interests.

Women Bloggers Are Too Nice to Each Other
And her point is…? Here’s the thing–women bloggers are having conversations with each other and that makes them a different breed of writer (think dialogue) from those who write for mainstream media. Maybe Ms. Breslin needs to adjust her expectations.


Let’s review. Blogs are the original form of social media and the first online dialogue for all kinds of groups. If we view them as a conversation, we should also remember that women have been talking to each other and supporting each other in whatever ‘appeasing’ way they have done for centuries and then some. We’re women, we talk. It’s what we do.

If a woman is looking for reassurance, information or support, she can go to a neighbour, a sister, a friend. She can also go online. It’s just another place for people to connect. Is Ms. Breslin essentially saying women shouldn’t talk to each other because they just ‘appease’ each other rather than attend to weightier issues? I’m thinking maybe she’s never been a part of a group of moms standing around on the playground after school drop off. If that’s the case, her loss.


Whether it’s online or off, the conversations are going to take place, so be nice and stop judging. Moms don’t have time for that.

 

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Drugged milk, toddlers wandering off and TV show side effects... oh, my!
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A daycare owner drugging kids’ milk? Toddlers found unattended in a Markham, Ontario drug store? SpongeBob being blamed for attention disorders in children?

There is a lot of scary (and not so savvy) stuff being reported in the news these days. I almost hate to write about it because I don’t want parents to worry more than they already do (as if I can stop them).

But this is terrible. I read on Babble.com recently about a daycare owner in Texas who has been accused of drugging kids’ milk with over-the-counter antihistamines and then giving it to children to help them sleep. The children ‘possibly’ drugged were reportedly between the ages of 20 months and 4 years-old. The owner faces 16 felony counts of endangerment to a child and is currently in jail. She could serve a maximum of two years in prison and fines up to $10,000 for each count.

In more local news, an award winning day care facility in Markham, Ontario has been shut down after three toddlers walked off the property, crossed a busy street and were found in a drug store nearby. In an article from the Toronto Star, we learned that the toddlers were ranging in age from 18 to 24 months (still in diapers), and that there were five other children who also escaped from the playground through an open gate. Those five were found before they got too far. The three kids who escaped to the drug store were missing for an estimated 12 minutes. A lot can happen in 12 minutes.

But don’t think that keeping your kids at home is the safest answer. If you’re letting them watch TV, beware. A recent study reveals that shows like SpongeBob can cause behavioural problems in kids. The study’s lead author, University of Virginia psychology professor Angeline Lillard, suggests that young children are compromised in their ability to learn and use self-control immediately after watching fast-paced shows. Her first explanation is that the fast pacing (with frequent scene changes and characters that are constantly in motion), and the fantasy aspect of the shows (with characters doing things that make no sense in the real world), may disrupt young children’s ability to concentrate immediately afterward. It’s also possible that kids are unconsciously adopting the characteristics of the unfocused and frenetic characters.

She doesn’t entirely blame our friend SpongeBob, however. There are other fast-paced cartoons children watch that can have the same effect.

I have witnessed firsthand the effect that television can have on my own children. Don’t let them watch it in the morning or before going to school. Keep viewing time in moderation and trust your instincts.

Are your kids affected by the shows they watch?

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Trevor Bond
September 18, 2011
Trevor Bond
Baby Baxter weighs in and shares his thoughts on babydom
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Who? Me?

But I’m an angel. I make the ladies smile and the children gather around. I chortle and giggle. When I sleep, the world sleeps with me. Clouds part and the air grows clear and crisp. A peace like no other blankets the world over.

I love to kick and punch at the air, but it’s only because my muscles are confused. I dream of the day I can bring you both breakfast in bed. Today, it’s just fun to put stuff in my mouth. How wonderful stuff is in my mouth. So you see, things are changing. I know I still spit up a lot, but that’s just an immature digestive system, it shall pass, I promise. But Mom, you say Daddy’s immature—I don’t see that passing. A little patience is all I ask.

More importantly Mommy, you seem distracted recently by these activities you call ‘work’. I guess it’s OK to go to the studio with you. I heard Christmas is coming and you must prepare for brisk sales. I understand. But it feels decidedly less about me.

I know my evening angst and vocal stretching isn’t making anybody happy. But before we change it up, I’d like to try something else new. Now don’t be frustrated, I just feel 2 am to 5 am is the best time for us to bond, recap our days and maybe drift away while cradled in your bosom. Lovely. No. No! I’m not ready for the crib, just another hour with you, that’s all I want. See what you’ve done! Now you’re going to have to walk me around the house and start again.  Focus Mother. Why can’t you focus?

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Savvy or Not So Savvy? Breast Milk Diet
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The mommy blogs and twitter were all a-buzz last week over the story of a husband who declared he was going to exist on his wife’s breast milk for as long as he could. The California couple, Katie and Curtis, had a freezer full of pumped breast milk they didn’t want to see wasted. Katie is also a doula, so she was likely inspired to raise awareness of the health benefits to breast milk.

So, she and her husband started a blog called Don’t Have a Cow, Man, in order to document his journey. The blog was taken down two days later, however, due to the high volume of negative comments that came in.

People were disgusted at the notion of a grown man (a 6’4”, 185-pound father) drinking his wife’s breast milk, while others judged them for not donating it to a family in need.

On that—I have one quick question to throw in the ring: why does human milk carry such a large ‘ick” factor over cows’ milk? If you think about it, cows are a bit dirtier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I wish my husband had done the same thing, but logically, it’s a fair question. But I digress…the story continues and it has a good ending.

When the Don’t Have a Cow, Man blog was taken down, Katie read through the comments and connected with a Montreal mom, Emma Kwasnica, who runs a global milk-sharing network (Human Milk 4 Human Babies). Emma was able to introduce Katie and Curtis to a mother in California with quadruplets who needed the milk. It worked out perfectly.

From where I’m standing, this California couple achieved quite a bit in one week. Firstly, they went ‘viral’ and became an internet story in two days. That in itself is an accomplishment. But even better, they were able to raise awareness, spark debates and discussions online that eventually lead to the most desirable ending. Everyone won.

What do you think? Is a human mother’s milk gross?

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Topic —  Contests

Tri-umphant

Sarah Morgenstern
October 25, 2011
Sarah Morgenstern
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins
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What if… it’s a question we all ask at one point or another. It’s the question that grips the three women in Ellen Hopkins’ latest book, Triangles. We asked Ellen if she would share her thoughts on why this book would appeal to our mom readers, and here was her response:

Triangles explores what it means to be a woman approaching midlife, when all those annoying questions hit. Most of them start with, ‘What if…’ What if I would have gone to college, or to a different college, or not gone at all? What if I would have married my first boyfriend, or not married him, or not married at all? What if I would have had children younger, had them older, not had them at all? Second guessing our decisions is a universal human trait, and Triangles is all about three women—two sisters and a best friend—second guessing their lives. Holly, Marissa and Andrea are all moms, struggling to make sense of where their decisions have led them. Their children have issues of their own. Sometimes the women notice. Sometimes they don’t, even when they keep reminding themselves that they need to be proactive. This is parenting, of course. No woman rates one hundred percent job performance, despite every best intention. I think moms will love Triangles because they’ll see reflections of their friends, sisters, mothers, or maybe even themselves—of who they are, were, or maybe will become. And they’ll better understand the importance of being a mom. Even one with flaws.” - Ellen Hopkins

Congratulations to Louise C., Sandro S., Pam F., Diane O., Ellisia H., Jennifer G., Doris D., Michelle M., Mary N., Amy R. who all won a copy of Triangles to enjoy!

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Trevor Bond
February 19, 2012
Trevor Bond
Boyz in the Hood
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My brother-in-law, Aaron, recently joined me for a walk about town with Baxter. We soaked in the sites and were anxiously seeking refuge in one of Leslieville/South Riverdale’s restaurants for a food break.

As usual, the regular haunts were crammed. The next-best option had all the booths taken, leaving an extremely high bar table—which is fine if you don’t mind feeding Baxter down in his stroller (like tossing treats into the sunken monkey cage at the zoo). Finally, we came across Table 17, which was taking orders for the next nine minutes—that worked for us. No need to dally. We settled in, ordered and I plunked Bax on my lap for the balance of our visit.

It was grand to talk of the days when the boyz can go to a hockey game, or toboggan, or toss a ball around. This day foreshadowed countless times when we three shall be together, bonding as only men can. It added a little perspective to our simple day. We were also celebrating my final pre-registration exam, which added REALTOR to my list of skills, so spirits were high.

And Baxter was the icing on the cake. He never fussed, and never complained. In fact, he was a beacon of true joy to our only neighbouring table of ladies. They reveled as Baxter imbued a sing-song melody to the meal. Of course, this musical delight would be short-lived if not for my vibrato. Baxter will hold any note (as long as there is breath in his lungs) if you will shake, vibrate or otherwise oscillate his meaty bod. So, on my knee he would perch, singing a random tune as I added the appropriate amount of knee-judder.

As if this wasn’t wonderful enough, I’ve taken to placing my finger horizontally across his mouth and wagging it across his lips (classic move). This is non-stop aural bliss and makes anyone within listening distance smile and laugh. Good times.

(And thanks for lunch, Aaron!)

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Minnow's Five Things
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1. Where’s the Meat?
It’s amazing we grow into healthy adults at all when you consider the mistakes we make raising our kids. Like feeding them rice cereal at six months, for example. That’s no longer allowed, according to the latest in parenting news that came from a statement released by Health Canada last week. They are now recommending that parents offer their six month old infants meat, fish, poultry or meat alternatives two or three times a day. Move over sweet potatoes, it’s tuna time. Here’s the article from the Toronto Star explaining that babies need more iron in their diets. This is going to shake up a lot of feeding routines out there. Will it affect yours?

2. Free Range Parent or Helicopter Parent?
Maybe you’re not fussed about when to introduce meat or eggs or cereal to your kids because they’ll figure it out eventually, right? That would be your attitude if you are a free range parent (the opposite of a helicopter parent). Remember Lenore Skanazy? She left her nine year old son to find his way home alone from Manhattan to Queens (an hour subway ride), then wrote a book about free range parenting. And now she’s back. She just launched an after-school program for kids in New York City promising NOT to watch them. She charges parents $350 for eight weeks. Kids meet and can play in Central Park while she goes to Starbucks nearby. She promises to ignore them. So far nobody has signed up. Would you?

Amy on body image

3. We Heart Amy
It’s hard not to mention the Emmys this week. Since you asked what was on my radar, I’ll admit I had a glance at who wore what. My fave? Amy Poehler. Not just her dress, but her.  She’s smart, funny and can pull off a great red carpet look. Who doesn’t want to be like Amy Poehler? Apparently she is good at dishing out advice, too. Especially to girls. I found this video from her website smartgirlsattheparty.com. It’s very sound advice for young girls struggling with body image. If I had a daughter, this is the kind of role model I would try to be for her. Who is your ideal role model for girls?

bacon

4. No More Bacon?
If you have been reading my blog regularly, you’ll know that I am obsessed with the rise in bacon popularity of late. It’s on doughnuts, in jams and wrapped around all kinds of otherwise healthy food groups. Apparently bacon lovers are in trouble with the looming global pork shortage. To further prove my point that bacon is a crazy cult food, just read the social media buzz emanating from bacon lovers around the world. Will the bacon shortage affect your life?

mom blogs

5. Mom Blogs Are Hot
I’ll leave you with this hilarious comic from one of my favourite online publishers of irreverent jokes, someecards.com. This particular card was brought to my attention by one of our very own Savvy Storytellers who is a mom blogger herself. I love that mom blogs are so mainstream these days that someecards.com picked them up like this. Mom blogs are hot, there is no doubt about it.

Have a great week.

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